I remember vividly the moment I realized who St. Nicholas really was. Not the idea that Santa was Mom and Dad, but who St. Nick was. I don’t remember the year. I remember the moment, the feeling, the scene, the people. It was Christmas morning. I no longer believed in the myth and knew who filled the stockings and put the presents under the tree, and yet Christmas was still a magical day. There were rules and traditions. That year Christmas changed forever for me and changed me forever.
After everyone was awake and waiting for that last kid to run into my parent’s room to see everyone else waiting on her (I do remember it was my older sister!), we were all told it was time to go “see what Santa brought.” We all ran down the hall to the living room to see that the Christmas tree lights were on, the stockings were overflowing, the presents were piled high under that 14-foot tree, and there we
were, for just a brief moment, silent as we took in the whole scene, so different from the night before.
Then . . . commotion!
Stockings came first. We all raced, my brother or sister taking Dad his stocking as he sat down in his chair wearing a tattered green terry cloth bathrobe. As I was taking mine down, I realized that there was one missing and I looked at my mom to see if she had hers yet. But Mom didn’t have one. What she had was a look of pure love as she watched her family pulling out socks or underwear wrapped in colorful tissue paper, dumping the mixed nuts out to get to the extra-large apple or orange from the toe
and opening those other small gifts that would fit in the stocking.
Joy and Love as she watched but had nothing to open. There was a question (Mom, where’s your stocking? It was here last night.) and the answer (I don’t need a stocking, sweetheart.) and a decision – there wouldn’t be another Christmas when my mom didn’t have a stocking.
And she didn’t. It took me a whole year to figure out what to put in there, but I thought about it all year and each time I saw something that I thought my mom would like and I could afford from my allowance, I bought it. My brother and sister asked what I was doing and I showed them the stocking and told them that Mom didn’t ever have a stocking to open. And they helped.
The next year when she was handed a stocking -- one she had no idea where it had come from or who had filled it, I had that feeling of Joy and Love as I watched her, confused at first and then tears and
laughter. And I suddenly realized what Santa Claus really was. Santa Claus wasn’t a myth. He wasn’t Mom and Dad. Santa Claus was joy and love at watching the ones you love open things that you took the time to pick out, to wrap, and to give. Santa Claus wasn’t about getting; Santa Claus was about giving, and the joy of seeing someone else getting.
So, the season of Christmas is over for another year, but that feeling doesn’t have to be over. As I have gotten old(er) I know that there was a real Nicholas who became a saint. He didn’t have a season. The joy of giving out of love isn’t just for a season. What a difference it could make if we all would take time in 2023 to make this Christmas last until the next Christmas season begins.
Written by Suzie Townley of The Crossroads Real Estate Group of Keller Williams Diamond Partners